Despite a real chance in the fight for the title, Borussia Dortmund does not dare to give the championship as a clear goal. For Sébastien Haller, the protection of puppies must come to an end. Also: There is no alternative to extending the contract with Raphael Guerreiro. The findings after BVB’s 2-1 victory over Union Berlin.
BVB – There is a lack of clear communication
The good news for Dortmund on this 27th matchday was: fortunately nothing happened. Due to the narrow victory against Union Berlin, BVB is still in second place in the table, the gap to FC Bayern is still only two points and they are still in the middle of the fight for the German championship.
And yet: as rosy as that may sound – after all, compared to the bankruptcies against Bayern and RB Leipzig, they showed themselves to be improved in almost all respects – this actually positive fact is so little publicized.
Immediately before the kick-off at Signal Iduna Park, Sebastian Kehl had already commented on the current sporting situation and made an extremely defensive choice of words. “We’ll see what Bayern do in the next few weeks, but we want to continue to be in this position, that we’re the hunters,” said the BVB sports director there, but avoided – even after an explicit request from sky-Reporter Patrick Wasserziehr – a clear announcement regarding the goals in the end of the season. The Bundesliga is “the only title we are still fighting for, so we will try everything.” Kehl made a similar choice of words after the game.
As so often in the past, one gets the impression that BVB are very afraid of expressing their unconditional desire to become champions. According to the motto: If I don’t try, I can’t disappoint anyone. In such a tight race, in which there is actually nothing to lose for Dortmund, regardless of the final outcome, this raises a few question marks.
BVB: Dortmund avoids clear announcements
In general, the black and yellow have given a sometimes devastating picture in terms of communication in recent weeks. Justified criticism is sometimes swept under the carpet by Kehl and coach Edin Terzic, while managing director Hans-Joachim Watzke launched an all-round attack against the team after the cup defeat against Leipzig, calling on the leading players in particular to do their duty.
“That was a non-performance in the first half. Above all, I was extremely disappointed,” said the BVB boss after the Leipzig game Ruhr news. “We have a lot of players in the team who want to be leaders and actually can be. They’ve already shown that this season. But whether you’re a leader shows on the pitch. And only there.”
The best example of the problems in the public image is dealing with Jude Bellingham. The youngster has not been able to bring his performance potential to the pitch for weeks. However, instead of clearly pointing towards the youngster – especially after his various rants about his own teammates – clear announcements from Terzic and Kehl are missing. Probably also in order not to expose himself to his displeasure and to encourage a change of club in the summer.
“It’s part of his development. I think he’s developed incredibly well. He gives this team an incredible amount,” said Kehl before the Union game, when asked about Bellingham’s ability to criticize. Relativization and evasion instead of the necessary clarity.
The bottom line is that it is primarily the team that is struggling with this lack of clarity. Even against Union, many players noticed the uncertainty that those responsible in Dortmund are currently showing. The broad chest that you developed in the games after the winter break is gone. The anxious statements and statements of those responsible rub off on the performance of the team.
BVB – The puppy protection for Sébastien Haller must come to an end
In the 74 minutes that Sébastien Haller was on the pitch against Union Berlin, he didn’t necessarily gather arguments to enjoy his status as Borussia’s number one striker in the future. With just 28 ball actions, the Ivorian recorded the fewest of all starting eleven players in the black and yellow jersey, and he also lagged behind his teammates in terms of goal risk.
Three and a half months after his return to the pitch, the feeling remains that the striker lacks full integration into the squad. In his performances, the 28-year-old often seems like a foreign body, but that doesn’t stop Terzic from ordering him into the starting XI week after week.
Of course, it must be acknowledged at this point which path Haller has taken in the past year. Shortly after moving to BVB, the striker was diagnosed with malignant testicular cancer, which resulted in surgery and months of chemotherapy. That’s why nobody expected that after his comeback in January he would shoot down the entire Bundesliga.
But BVB can no longer take it into account. At the end of the season, Terzic needs the best possible performance from all players and Haller doesn’t seem to be able to call up that at the moment.
BVB: Haller’s qualities don’t come into play
On paper he may help many teams with his physicality and presence in the center of the attack, but his qualities are not sufficiently effective for the BVB game. Dortmund simply do not have enough fast and at the same time dangerous wingers. Only Karim Adeyemi from the current team falls into this category, but the 21-year-old was only recently out for weeks due to a torn muscle fiber.
Terzic would therefore be well advised to finally lift the puppy protection that Haller is apparently under and give alternatives like Youssoufa Moukoko a chance to (re)prove himself. The fact that he has the kind of killer instinct that Haller (currently) lacks was evident in the win against Union.
Moukoko anticipated the apparently harmless duel between Marco Reus and Berlin’s midfielder Paul Seguin in an outstanding manner, grabbed the ball, rounded keeper Frederik Rönnow and pushed in a center-forward style to make it 2-1.
3. BVB – Raphael Guerreiro’s contract extension is a must
Completely contrary to Haller’s rather weak performance, Raphael Guerreiro presented himself against Union Berlin. Playing at left-back again this time, the Portuguese was the strongest Borussia player on the pitch.
Guerreiro was at the top of almost all meaningful parameters. Not only did he have the most ball contacts of all players, he also made the most passes and hit the most (successful) crosses in the Unioner’s sixteen – as did Dortmund’s 1-0 when he defeated Donyell Malen with an exemplary Crossing served from the left.
Most recently, Terzic had deployed the 29-year-old mainly in midfield, where his strengths came to the fore. With the ball at his feet, Guerreiro is without question one of the best and brightest players in the Bundesliga. Like hardly any other player in the Dortmund squad, he has a feeling for the space and the technical requirements to use it.
You also have to forgive the Portuguese for his obvious weaknesses in the game against the ball. As a left-back, Guerreiro has always interpreted his role extremely offensively. In midfield, too, he is by no means the diligent worker, but rather the offensive free spirit who can shine with his skills alongside somewhat more defensively oriented teammates such as Emre Can or Salih Özcan. Such a player is worth its weight in gold, especially against teams like Union Berlin, which offer the opponent little space with two densely staggered chains.
BVB: PL clubs interested in Guerreiro
This is another reason why BVB must extend the expiring contract. Even if Rami Bensebaini should move from Borussia Mönchengladbach to Dortmund and Guerreiro would have another competitor in the position of left-back – the qualities of the Portuguese, if he is in top condition, are indispensable for BVB.
Guerreiro only recently signaled that there is a fundamental interest in staying in Dortmund beIN Sports. “It’s great to play at BVB, in this great stadium. I’m very happy with my career in Germany, the stadiums are always full,” he said there. However, there has not yet been any advance from BVB. “A contract extension? At the moment the club has not made an offer.”
But you shouldn’t wait too long, after all the good performances of the Portuguese do not remain hidden. According to various media reports, there is great interest from the Premier League. And Dortmund can’t afford to lose Guerreiro’s qualities.